The U.S. Forest Service is about to trade away an Apache holy site to metals mining companies to build a copper mine, eventually turning the land held sacred for thousands of years into a crater a thousand feet deep and nearly two miles wide, according to the USFS environmental review.
The land swap would give 2,422 acres of federal land currently a part of Tonto National Forest to Rio Tinto PLC and BHP Group Ltd. — two of the world’s largest metals and mining companies — in exchange for conserving 5,344 acres elsewhere in Arizona. Oak Flat, part of the Tonto National Forest, is also known as Chi’chil Bildagoteel, and is home to a vast grove of Emory oak trees sacred to Apaches. “You’re talking about deities, angels and the birth of where language was given to a people that was the base of religion,” Wendsler Nosie Sr., former chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and head of the non-profit group Apache-Stronghold, told E&E.
Meanwhile in what is now Idaho, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes filed a lawsuit in federal court last week to block another land swap. The trade would give land to an industrial agriculture company planning to expand the stacks of radioactive fertilizer waste next to the tribes’ reservation, which the tribes argue violates an 1868 treaty, as well as other environmental laws. (Apache: E&E $, The Hill, Reuters; Shoshone-Bannock: AP)